An epic, inspiring novel about one woman's survival in the hardscrabble Italian countryside and her determination to protect her family throughout the Second World War--by any means possible
Maria Vittoria is twenty-five when her father brings home the man who will become her husband. It is 1923 in the austere Italian mountain village where her family has lived for generations, and the man she sees is tall and handsome and has survived the First World War without any noticeable scars. Taking just the linens she has sewn that make up her dowry and a statue of the Madonna that sits by her bedside, Maria leaves the only life she has ever known to begin a family. But her future will not be what she imagines.
The Madonna of the Mountains follows Maria over the next three decades, as she moves to the town where she and her husband become shopkeepers, through the birth of their five children, through the hardships and cruelties of the National Fascist Party Rule and the Second World War. Struggling with the cost of survival at a time when food is scarce and allegiances are questioned, Maria trusts no one and fears everyone--her Fascist cousin, the madwoman from her childhood, her watchful neighbors, the Nazis and the Partisans who show up hungry at her door. As Maria's children grow up and her marriage endures its own hardships, she must hold her family together with resilience, love, and faith, until she makes a fateful decision that will change the course of all their lives.
A sweeping saga about womanhood, loyalty, war, religion, family, food, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is a poignant look at the span of one woman's life as the rules change and her world becomes unrecognizable. In depicting the great cost of war and the ineluctable power of time on a life, Elise Valmorbida has created an unforgettable portrait of a woman navigating both the unforeseen and the inevitable.
Advance praise for Madonna of the Mountains
"A riveting adventure for the soul, The Madonna of the Mountains is just the kind of evocative historical fiction I love. It transported me to Italy and provided a feast for the senses: I smelled the flowers, tasted the gnocchi, heard the clang and chimes of church bells--and watched a young girl grow into a woman whose faith, love, and innocence are tested by the hardships of war."--Sara Gruen, author of At the Water's Edge and Water for Elephants
"Bewitching."--Book of the Month pick, The Times (UK)
Cousin of My Brilliant Friend, daughter of Elizabeth Jane Howard and acquaintance of Anna Hope, we are delighted to introduce Maria Vittoria, a new literary companion.
Elise Valmorbida grew up Italian in Australia, but fell in love with London. She's a designer, writer and teacher of creative writing. In recent years, she produced a feature film. Her fiction includes Matilde Waltzing, The TV President and The Winding Stick. Her non-fiction includes SAXON - The Making of a Guerrilla Film, and The Book of Happy Endings, now published in four languages and four continents.